State(s) of disunion(s): Anticipation of Bedlam
CAMPUS CORNER — If you missed it, Clemson’s football coach, Dabo Swinney, went off last night on South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. You’ll see the context in the link. Swinney likely was using this as some sort of motivational ploy two days before Clemson, in a tailspin after a 7-0 start, plays in the ACC title game.
I see you. You’re sitting there, saying, ‘Why do I care about this? I know you moved here from South Carolina, but, brother, you’re here now.’ You’re correct; I am here. Believe me, I know. And I’m darn-happy to be here. It’s been everything I’d hoped for, and more, as a change and upgrade.
The Palmetto State game is still on my mind, for one reason, because I had agreed to do this book, long before I took the job. So there’s that. (Interestingly enough, it’s about bad blood between the schools. Another chapter was just written.)
But I bring this up, really, because I was asked to do sort of a comparison of the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry and Bedlam. Just imagine if either Bob Stoops or Mike Gundy laid into the other program, for whatever reason. That’s what’s going on in the state of South Carolina today. Can you imagine the Animal, relative to what it is already this week?
Now, I can’t fully compare the two until I see Bedlam, up close and personal. But I’ve made enough friends here to understand the backdrop of Bedlam and how the schools view one another.
There’s a factual similarity between the two that there’s no way around: The lopsidedness. That’s no knock on anyone; it’s just reality. Even after three consecutive victories (for the first time since 1968-70, by the way), the Gamecocks still trail in the series 65-40-4. That, obviously, pales in comparison to 82-16-7. But, trust me, it creates the same feelings there as it does here.
Oklahoma is the Clemson. It’s the one who has been the football leader in the state, except OU has seven national titles to Clemson’s one (which resulted in probation). Clemson hasn’t driven the market nationally the way OU has and does, for that reason.
Oklahoma State is the South Carolina. Some success, Heisman-winning running back. The common thread there is trying to get over the hump. Trying to make improvements to facilities. Grinding. Playing catchup. The Gamecocks have won one conference title, the 1969 ACC title in a weak league. The Cowboys are still waiting. The comparison here’s stronger than the OU-Clemson one, truthfully.
Here’s a key difference: Oklahoma has a rivalry beyond this. That’s not the case in South Carolina. The game at the end is it, just like it is in Stillwater. That changes the dynamic; it does.
I think (and you’ll predominantly agree) there’s more passion from OU fans poured into the Texas game, because the series is closer — and because it’s actually tilted UT’s way.
But there’s something about in-state, you know? There’s something about living around and breathing the same air as the other fan base. There’s something ultimately more personal about that. There are Texas fans and alums in this state, just like there are Oklahoma fans and alums in Texas. But the cross-pollination is far more prevalent between OU and OSU. You see it everywhere. License plates and car stickers. T-shirts and other gear. Etc., etc.
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